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'Geocaching' device ties up authorities

December 20, 2008

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- A suspicious object destroyed by a Pennsylvania State Police bomb squad Friday night near the former Landis Tool Co. turned out to be something from a hi-tech scavenger hunt, Waynesboro Police Chief Mark King said.

Police were called at 3:47 p.m. by a resident who saw suspicious activity on Sixth Street near the office building of the closed plant, King said. The resident saw a vehicle stop and someone pick up a package, he said.

Cpl. Kurt Wagaman and Patrolman Tom Storey were sent to investigate and found the object. The resident also took a cell phone picture of the vehicle, Wagaman said.

The bomb team was called in from Harrisburg , Pa., and borough officers evacuated several houses in the area of Sixth, Chestnut and Walnut streets, Wagaman said. Fire police cordoned off the area and the residents and two security guards from the factory were taken to the Waynesboro Fire Department, he said.

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The bomb team used a robot to examine the object, then a technician attached a line to the device and it was pulled onto Sixth Street, Wagaman said. The robot then "shot a low-velocity charge" into the package, he said.

The object was a spherical holiday edition soda bottle with a capped piece of plastic pipe inserted down the neck. There was a plastic tie around the bottle neck and a wire loop was used to hang it from the shrub.

After it was destroyed, police found a "geocaching" logbook rolled up inside the pipe. Three Internet pseudonyms were written on the paper.

Geocaching is a treasure hunt in which participants use GPS devices to find hidden packages and then share their experiences online.

While it turned out to be harmless, the incident occupied police, fire and emergency management personnel for about four hours.

Along with state and borough police, the fire department and fire police, King said the borough's emergency management coordinator and the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency were at the scene. The Washington Township Police Department assisted by covering calls for the department and the Red Cross served food at the fire hall.

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